Rastelli, E., Corinaldesi, C., Dell’Anno, A., Tangherlini, M., Martorelli, E., Ingrassia, M., … & Danovaro, R. (2017). High potential for temperate viruses to drive carbon cycling in chemoautotrophy’dominated shallow’water hydrothermal vents. Environmental microbiology, 19(11), 4432-4446.
Viruses are the most abundant life forms in the world’s oceans and they are key drivers of biogeochemical cycles, but their impact on the microbial assemblages inhabiting hydrothermal vent ecosystems is still largely unknown. Here, we analysed the viral life strategies and virus-host interactions in the sediments of a newly discovered shallow-water hydrothermal field of the Mediterranean Sea. Our study reveals that temperate viruses, once experimentally induced to replicate, can cause large mortality of vent microbes, significantly reducing the chemoautotrophic carbon production, while enhancing the metabolism of microbial heterotrophs and the re-cycling of the organic matter. These results provide new insights on the factors controlling primary and secondary production processes in hydrothermal vents, suggesting that the inducible provirus-host interactions occurring in these systems can profoundly influence the functioning of the microbial food web and the efficiency in the energy transfer to the higher trophic levels.
I thought the topic of viral influence on biogeochemical cycling sounded fun. Familiar material within the paper include a focus on carbon cycling and the use of metagenomics for analyzing bacteria.